3-D tomosynthesis mammography is a revolutionary state-of-the-art technology that allows radiologists to “see” through the breast tissue, layer by layer, more closely by minimizing overlapping tissue. During a 3-D mammogram, multiple low dose images are acquired at different angles. This provides multiple slices through the breast tissue for radiologists to view, similar to flipping through the pages of a book.
This new technology has been proven to be more accurate and beneficial for all patients regardless of age or breast density. I believe that in the future, this will be the breast screening study of choice for all patients and will be widely adopted. The benefits of this technology include:
Earlier detection: 3-D mammography has been proven to detect more cancers at an earlier stage.
Fewer callbacks: 3-D mammography helps distinguish normal overlapping tissue from masses, leading to fewer callbacks and less anxiety.
Better visualization: Radiologists can see the size, shape and location of an abnormality.
The extra images will take just a few seconds more per view while in compression. We do still need compression of the breast tissue to help reduce motion artifact, radiation dose and to provide clearer images.
We continue to perform standard 2-D mammogram images in addition to the 3-D for comparison to previous years and to evaluate calcifications. Calcifications are better assessed on the 2-D images.
As in any exam using radiation, radiation dose varies from person to person. A 3-D mammogram does have a slightly higher dose than a standard mammogram, but is within the allowable limits set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
At this time, some insurance providers do not cover a 3-D mammogram. As there are multiple insurance carriers and plans, I encourage patients to check with their individual health plans for coverage details. Even if your insurance company does not cover a 3-D mammogram, the most you would be billed for the 3-D portion of the exam is currently $100. It may be helpful to provide the CPT code listed below to your insurance carrier to determine coverage.
Tomosynthesis when performed with a screening mammogram, CPT77063
Tomosynthesis when performed with a diagnostic mammogram, CPT G0202
MidMichigan Health is currently offering 3-D mammography at the Center for Women’s Health on the campus of MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland with plans to expand this service to other locations soon. To schedule your mammogram, contact MidMichigan Health at (888) 367-2778.
Lindsay Zeeb, M.D., board-certified diagnostic radiologist, is the medical director of Breast Imaging and the Center for Women’s Health at MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland. As a breast imaging specialist, Dr. Zeeb reads and interprets the images produced by mammography, ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), then makes recommendations for further diagnostic testing and treatment. She also conducts image-guided breast biopsies. She believes that patients play a pivotal role in the battle against breast cancer and that keeping up with yearly mammograms can help diagnose cancer early, when it is most curable.